Friday, October 24, 2014

Rainbow Unicorn Cake + Party

Every birthday that comes around for my children brings a feeling of nervousness for me. I never know what type of party or cake they are going to want me to create! This year one of my daughters wanted a rainbow unicorn cake and party. Thank goodness for Pinterest is all I can say!

After doing some research I managed to come up with a simple rainbow unicorn themed party. We never have expensive, flash parties in our family. We keep it simple, make it fun and focus on creating memories that our children will remember with their friends.

We always invite lots of kids {as we are used to lots of kids!}, have parties at our home, prepare lots of food and plan out a schedule of games and activities for everyone to participate in. This schedule works well for us and the kids love it.

Here are some pictures from our rainbow unicorn party:

My husband normally is in charge of the party set up and was so awesome he even provided our own personal rainbow for the party!

A rainbow water balloon fight was a must for this party! I stayed well out of the action :)

The girls had a great time swimming, sliding and chasing each other around the back yard.

I found a rainbow unicorn pinata in Big W and filled it with rainbow coloured lolly pops. I also started out the party with a simple rainbow/pink {my daughters favourite colour} themed spread of snacks before the real food came out!

I made a rainbow unicorn cake. It was fun to make and not as hard as I thought it was going to be. I simply made a large slab cake and cut out the shape of a horse/unicorn head and then decorated it with lollies and rainbow sour straps. For the horn I used an icecream cone. I covered it in icing and then rolled it in pink sparkles. Easy!

I kept looking at the cake and thinking that something didn't quite look right with it. Then I realised that she {the cake!} needed eyelashes. What a difference eyelashes make!

So much better...I think! More importantly my daughter was delighted with her cake!

After the games outside we gave them all rainbow coloured glow bracelets and necklaces to run around in the dark with. They loved it!

Overall it was a great party. Harmony was really happy and so were all the guests. Two of the girls asked if they could come to Harmony's birthday party next year they loved it so much!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wobbly Courage is all you need to get started

Several months ago I found myself feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated and in a way fearful from attempting to do anything I really wanted to achieve. It was at this time that a lovely friend of mine, Kelly Exeter, sent me a copy of her new book: Your Best Year Yet.

Her book was exactly what I needed at that precise moment in my life because she challenged me to shift my thinking, to take charge of my life and she gave me the wobbly courage I needed to get started on making BIG changes in my life.

When I opened the parcel I have to admit that I burst into tears. Mainly because I was so happy for Kelly and I knew it had taken a lot of work and courage to make this book happen but also the title of the book was what I needed to be reminded of and as I curled up to read her wise words I was struck with her concept of wobbly courage.

Actually I was perplexed, bamboozled, dumbstruck, shell shocked to name a few...
Her thoughts on wobbly courage shattered and challenged my own fears.

Wow! I was blown away. It was so simple I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it before!!

I had let myself become so caught up in second guessing what I knew was right for me to do because I was worried about how other people would react, what other people would say and I would spend endless hours considering all the damage control options for my goals that by the end of it all my ideas sounded way too hard!

So often we feel we need to have complete - full - powerful - courage to attempt to make any changes in our lives. Kelly helped me to see that all I needed was wobbly courage.

The type of courage that is still scared, that shakes, wobbles, falls over even and doesn't quite look right but goes ahead and gives it a try. It is the type of courage that keeps us moving forward towards our goals and dreams and doesn't worry so much about what other people think.

To me it is like taking a little tiny particle of faith, nurturing it, loving it and then putting it into action by giving something a go, a try, an attempt. Kind of like believing in what you can't yet see.

Wobbly courage is still courage and better than having no courage at all.
It is a start and a start is progress.

So since reading Kelly's book I have taken that wobbly courage and run with it. Literally!

It was just what I needed to get my body moving, to face my fears and be more active in my life. Since achieving one of my big goals - running 10 Km - I am taking that wobbly courage and applying it to other area's of my life.

I love that Kelly has made her book so easy and simple to read. It is practical and inspiring. I appreciate all the time and effort it took to share her thoughts {which is not easy when you are a busy Mum!} because they have radically changed mine.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mr. Men and Little Miss Personalised Art Prints

During the week I was invited to attend the celebration and launch of the new Myer Christmas Giftorium that will roll out in 67 Myer stores around Australia. Creating a one stop shop for festive gift giving this Christmas season.

The event I attended was at the Myer Brisbane City store, which I will tell you more about in an upcoming blog post. BUT ... I had to share right away just how delighted I was that you can order Mr. Men and Little Miss personalised prints in store for your cherubs or even yourself.

You see, we are huge fans of Mr. Men and Little Miss in our home. We have over the years collected every book they have made and with my youngest daughter this is our bedtime tradition.

I read her or she reads me a Mr. Men or Little Miss book before she sleeps.
So...yeah...we love them!

For the first time in Australia, at the Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane city stores, you can pick out a Mr. Men or Little Miss character and customise it with your name. Oh my goodness! So fun! You could organise to surprise someone as a gift or have them come in store and create it themselves.

With the customised prints you have the choice of two sizes and it is such a wonderful unique gift idea. It would make a great addition to any cherubs bedroom.

I was of course delighted and surprised to discover that they had made ME a Little Miss. I have to say that I love that I am hot pink, wearing my favourite colour shoes - blue - and of course wondering how they knew I love my phone that much!!

They also stock a variety of other Mr. Men and Little Miss products in store. Personalised prints will be available from Monday and sorry I don't have any prices for you yet on how much they are.

I will update it when I receive them.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

my couch to 10km journey

Over the last couple of months I have been on an EPIC mental health recovery journey. As part of my journey I have taken myself from literally sitting on the couch to running 10 Km. It has been hard work and I have shed many tears along the way BUT - my goodness - has it been worth it!

I have shared already how I started out my healthy living plan by writing out 'baby step' plans to get myself moving and healthy again. You can read my baby step plan 1 HERE where I started out doing 20 laps in my back yard and my baby step plan 2 HERE where I started with the goal to run 100m.

After making these two plans happen I then realised that I needed to get more serious as my mental health took a serious nose dive in the wrong direction! So I took drastic action.

I shut down my facebook page, I shut down my facebook personal profile, I stopped writing on my blog, I stopped serving in the community, I stopped helping out at church, I pretty much cut everyone out of my life and even stopped talking to friends.

I stopped everything I could and said NO to everything I was involved in except taking care of my family.

For once in my life I put myself completely first. I had to. I mentally needed to.

It has been one of the hardest things I have ever done as many people were very confused with my actions and it was hard to explain. I kind of just had to do it and worry about what people would think afterwards. I knew that real friends would understand and be supportive.

So, after making drastic changes I set to serious work. I started writing out more and more baby step plans and I made sure I stuck to them. If I had a day where I slipped up at sticking to my plan I told myself it was alright, showed myself a little self compassion and just went right back to following my schedule.

Some of my baby step plans included:
Setting walking goals
Setting running goals
Buying sports clothing
Getting a shorter haircut that made it easier to run
Changing out my wardrobe so that sports clothes were more available!
Running outside in public
Buying new songs to run to as I reached goals.

Pretty much most of my baby steps involved running.
You see, I have been running to literally save my life.

I kept all of my baby step goals very small and very specific.
I also made sure they were goals that would push me out of my comfort zone.

Now as I was in desperate need mentally to help myself, I went hardcore in working out a running plan. Pretty much my situation was that if I didn't run and exercise then I would need to take medication and I didn't want to take medication.

I have shared previously why medication doesn't work for me.

So hardcore running was one of the key elements I needed to do to help myself.
Oh my! Did I mention I hate running!

If you are interested this is what I did to reach my 10km goal over a couple of months. I actually don't recommend it unless you have an all or nothing crazy hardcore personality like me but it worked for me and I have reached one of my main goals by pushing myself so hard.

First of all, I did the Couch to 5km running program. I have an App on my phone and have done it at least 3 times before. I started it on my treadmill and then moved to running outside.

In the beginning running was very difficult. It was mentally challenging to push myself physically when my mind was screaming at me to stop. But, I pushed through it.

I knew I could do all the running tasks as I have done it before.
I had run a 10km marathon a couple of years ago.

After I had been running for about 3 weeks with the Couch to 5km program I then signed up with Operation Move to do their Learn to run program. This way I had awesome coaches and running buddies to encourage me along my journey of running and it also made me accountable to someone. I had to report in each week how I went.

So as soon as I signed up with Operation Move I then started to do two lots of running each day. I would do the requirements for the Couch to 5km App and then right after I would continue running to also do the running requirements for Operation Move.

Double the training = double the results = double the tears I can tell you!

Now I wouldn't normally push myself so hard but my mental health really was suffering and I needed those good endorphins to get me through the day. My life really depended on it so I made it happen.

After a couple of months of pushing myself I woke up one morning and decided I had been running long enough and today was the day to make it to 10km. Time to go hard or go home!

It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be!

I stopped for a moment and cried on the side of the road at the 4km mark because I was hurting and was mad that after all this training that I still found running so difficult. I simply hated it. I also felt mad that running is what I need to do to help myself when taking a tablet sure sounded physically much easier!

Another notch in the awkward public conversation I had with myself register....
Then I pulled myself together and kept running.

I stopped again at the 7km mark and cried again. I was in pain and mad because I didn't feel I could push myself any more. This whole process was horrible and it hurt.

Then I thought about the 7km I had ran that morning and that if I didn't finish the 10km today I would have to start all over again.

I decided I didn't want to start all over again, turned the music up on my headphones and shuffled my way to the goal of 10km. Picture a small blonde Cliff Young style runner running down your street!

So that's it. This is the face of a 40 year old mum who has 7 kids who struggles mentally and who just ran 10km when she couldn't even run 1km a couple of months ago and who has smashed out her baby steps goals and is pretty happy with her achievements!

Most of my challenges in making this goal happen were in my mind. My mind simply screamed at me many days to stop. Instead of blocking those thoughts out I just let them be and kept moving forward.

Running helps me to overcome my bad thoughts. It is like my therapy. 
It is a renewal for me each day and it helps me feel stronger and clearer with my thinking. 

I am still struggling to accept that this is what I need to do in my life on a regular basis - run. 
I have decided that I don't need to enjoy it, I just need to do it. 

Now onto my next hardcore baby step plan...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fun Birthday Tradition Ideas

We are in birthday season for our family and I wanted to share some of our fun, easy birthday tradition ideas with you. These traditions work for our family and my children really enjoy them.

As we have so many birthdays in our house it was important that we established traditions that were simple yet inexpensive but also fun...because birthdays are special and once a year it is totally acceptable to have some serious fun on your day!

1. Let your children decide their own food for the day - In our family we let our children pick what they want for dinner or breakfast or both on their birthday. I try to give them as much free range as possible and the only requirement is that it has to been homemade and whatever they decide we all eat it as a family. My favourite example would be from one of my daughters who has requested melted cheese on toast for years as her special birthday dinner. She simply loves it and I loved it as well as it was so easy to make!!

2. Decorate your front door - We always decorate the front door of our home with streamers for birthday parties. It is cheap and easy to do and the kids have great fun threading it through our front door screen. A pack of streamers doesn't cost very much money and the kids love it because it is bright and fun and every time they go out the door they know it is a special decoration just for them. Streamers = fun!

3. Have a regular time for gift giving - We always have birthday gifts first thing in the morning. Everyone wakes up at whatever time the birthday child wakes up and we all pile onto our bed, sing Happy Birthday and then watch them open presents. It is what my children look forward to the most so we decided to make it happen first thing in the morning. You could also have it with the family dinner or whatever works best for you.

4. Have a Compliment Dinner - We always have a family dinner for birthdays. We go around the dinner table and compliment the birthday person on all the reasons we love them. Each person shares a minimum of three things they love about them. The person who has the birthday is not allowed to answer back that they disagree, they can only smile or say thank you. As a parent this is one of my favourite traditions as I love seeing my children share love for each other.

5. Let them decide on their own birthday cake - Every year my children have a cake in mind that they would like me to make. Some years I am a little scared of what they are going to ask of me as I am not the best cake decorator but my children love picking a theme or look for a cake. You can read more about how I make this tradition work HERE.

6. Decorate a part of the house or their bedroom door - This is a new tradition that I have been experimenting with and having a lot of fun with. I have mainly been working on decorating the birthday child's bedroom door. I try to theme it a little and make it special for the birthday child. An example this year was when one of my daughters put in a request as one of her main presents to be Wizz Fizz. She loves them. So I surprised her by decorating her bedroom door with them. A little excessive but you only become a teenager once right!!

7. The three present rule - A couple of years ago our finances became a little tighter and we decided we needed to make a few changes regarding how we spent our money. One area we looked at was birthdays - seeing as we have nine of them come around every year. We came up with the three present rule.  Each child get three presents/parcels for their birthday. I say parcels because every so often I might buy them a collection of clothes they need so in a parcel there might be a new top/new shorts/new pyjamas etc and that would be classed as one present. It has been working well in our home and this way we are not being too over the top or excessive with birthday presents.

8. Establish a party plan for your family - This works well especially if you have a large family. As we have so many children we decided we were not going to have a birthday party every year for each child. We created a party plan for certain years of age for our children. For example: When you turn 5 you have a party and invite your whole class, when you turn 10 you have 10 people, when you are 14 you can have a sleepover party etc. This way my children know exactly what happens for each birthday and they have a big party to look forward to on certain years.

These are the main party traditions we use in our home.
Of course there are many other birthday traditions that can be used.
For example:

Make up clues for your child to find their presents,
Fill their bedroom with balloons,
Have a special birthday plate for dinner,
Decorate the chair at the dinner table for the birthday child,
Write your child a birthday letter or
Create a photo collage for their special day.

I would love to know what you do for your family.
What birthday traditions you do have?